British Columbia

More than 100 donors save Maggie the mare from B.C. meat auction

A mare named Maggie was spared from the horsemeat market in Quesnel on Sunday thanks to the generosity of 140 people who put together enough money to buy her.

Prince George Animal Rescue outbids horsemeat buyers with money from 140 people

Maggie is settling in to a new life on Nicola Redpath's farm, home to the PG Animal Rescue Society. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

A mare named Maggie was spared from the horsemeat market in Quesnel on Sunday thanks to the generosity of 140 people who put together enough money to buy her.

Nicola Redpath with the PG Animal Rescue Society outbid buyers for the 14-year-old horse at a livestock auction in the Cariboo.

Redpath runs the nonprofit on her farm south of Prince George. She was able to purchase Maggie thanks to a surprise $14,000 donation from 140 Prince George donors belonging to a group called 100 Heroes who pooled their money.

According to its website, the group meets quarterly. Each member pledges $100 to donate to a local charity of their choosing.

This time, Redpath's animal rescue was the recipient. She said she's driven to save horses like Maggie from dinner plates.

"According to what the auctioneer said ... we don't know her breeding or anything," Redpath said while standing next to the chestnut horse.

"I went to this auction prepared to fill up my horse trailer, but I wanted to bring at least one home."

Auction 'last stop' for horses

Livestock auctions are common across central and northern B.C. But if equestrians don't show up to bid on the horses, they often end up with meat buyers, Redpath said.

The horses are bought and sent to feedlots before going to slaughter, she said. 

"The majority of horsemeat is exported for human consumption to Europe — to European delis, to Denmark, Belgium, and France," she added. 

Outbidding the meat buyers isn't always expensive, she said. It depends on the price per pound for meat and what bidders are willing to pay.

"Four hundred dollars is about an average price for a horse, but they also go for $50," Redpath said. "One of the white Arabian horses that I have up in one of my paddocks, I paid a stunning $25 for."

The costs add up after the horse is bought, and they can be prohibitively expensive. Redpath has to cover vet bills, farrier costs, vaccinations, deworming and hay for the winter. Those mounting costs are one of the main reasons horses end up on the auction block in the first place, she said.

Kindra Hoiland loads Maggie into a horse trailer. The PG Animal Rescue Society outbid the meat buyers at an auction, thanks to a donation of $14,000 from 140 local donors. (Facebook/Contributed)

But Redpath sees the potential in these horses and envisions a future for them.

"This is the last stop for them. It seems like such a waste. I had to do something, even if it was on such a small level," she said.

The money from donors at 100 Heroes will help ease the financial burden of caring for Maggie before she finds a new home.

"When we went to the auction, it felt like there was some kind of financial security there. I would be able to have enough hay in the barn and pay the vet bills," Redpath said. 

"It was pretty liberating. It was a good day."

For now, Maggie is in quarantine and getting checked out by a veterinarian. Next, Redpath and her daughter will start working with the horse to prepare her for a life with a new adoptive family. 

"She's a little impatient, but overall she's good natured and fairly level headed," Redpath said.

 "She is pretty beautiful." 


Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary and the Adrienne Clarkson Diversity Award. Based in Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry and the Paralympics.


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